I have avoided applying for Disability Living Allowance for a while, despite many people saying that as my lumbar disc problem is so debilitating I should do it. There are a few reasons – I have felt a lot like a fraud, as although a lot of the time I am in so much pain I can’t function, I also have lots of days where I can. There are people in a worse position than me. I have also felt I would probably not get it, as so many people worse than me struggle to be awarded it. I have been aware of the negative press that people who receive benefits get, and know some people around me who might scorn at me claiming financial help from the government they might not perceive I need, as well, I have a job don’t I? The form is long and I have been worried I will get it wrong, not be taken seriously, and now, with the new changes next year wondered if it was even worth it, I am nervous about having a medical, as it will typically be on a day I can walk fine. The biggest deterrent for me has probably been, if I am honest, the continued refusal to accept this as a disability, and continued thinking it will go away soon.
But, it is clear now that it won’t go away, certainly not any time soon. It is clear that I am entitled to it, that I need it now and that I may actually be awarded something. Financially we manage ok. We are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, we have no savings, but we can survive on our income ok. However, my disability has started incurring financial costs, and there are many things that we can do/get paid for that would make our lives so much less of a struggle when I am debilitated like I am right now. And if we actually have to face the worst case scenario, my husband’s job could be at risk if he continues having to take time off work to care for and the children. Oddly, his employment is more at risk than mine right now.
So, how will Disability Living Allowance help me? It will pay for a cleaner to come in twice a week when I am unable to do anything, such as this week, when R is at work. It will pay for take-aways or meals in a cafe, which I did on Tuesday as I could not cook or clean up afterwards, and for the children’s school meals when there is no time for R to make packed lunches and I can’t do it. It will pay for taxi’s to do the school run when R works and I can’t drive and for after-school club costs when I can’t collect them. It will pay for our laundry when I cannot use the washing machine. It will pay for some additional therapy for me such as the Alexander Technique, Bowen Therapy. Apart from these last two ‘luxuries’ we are now having to do, or should be doing all of those other things as well as paying for my gym membership which I have to keep going to keep moving in the swimming pool (some people might see that as luxury, but without out, I would probably not be walking at all now). I could actually also do with putting a handrail up the stairs and a chair/rail in the bath (can you buy tasteful ones?!) It is taking it’s toll financially now, not hugely, but enough to notice.
I had a good chat with the School Liaison Officer yesterday about Bella, my fears of how this affects her, what support is, or could be available and she talked at length with me about applying for DLA. She said I absolutely must apply and that I must not talk about how I am on good days, but put my worst days down. I said I would be happy with just the basic level and she thinks I might actually get a higher level than that because on my bad days I can’t even get to the toilet on my own, and that this is a real disability, and this is now really seriously impacting on our lives, to the point it is now affecting R’s job.
I really don’t know what I’ll be entitled to, if anything – care element? mobility element? who knows, but, what I do know now, is, I have to give it a try, as it is there to help people who are feeling the financial burden of disability.If anyone has any advice on how to complete the form, please let me know! key words to use, things to remember to include, what is not important, and any websites that can guide me, that would be so gratefully appreciated.